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Butterfield Rejects Budget that Hurts North Carolina's Working Families

Location: Washington, DC

Butterfield Rejects Budget that Hurts North Carolina's Working Families
March 17, 2005

Washington, DC-Congressman G. K. Butterfield voted against the House Budget Resolution warning that it will hurt programs for farmers, veterans and students.

"Health care, education, veterans' services and support for our farmers would all see deep cuts to make up for the cost of President Bush's tax cuts for the richest Americans," Butterfield said. "This proposal mirrors President Bush's budget, but I do not believe it reflects the values and priorities of our working families."

The budget resolution passed in the House today by a 218-214 vote that was largely along party lines. Like Bush's budget, the House resolution calls for total spending of $2.57 trillion in FY 2006 with a deficit of $375.8 billion.
Under the measure, defense spending would rise by 4 percent and would continue to rise for the next four years, although it does not assume any additional spending for military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan after FY 2006. Other non-defense discretionary spending, however, would be cut 1 percent in FY 2006, and would essentially be frozen at that level through 2010. The budget also fails to reflect the costs for Bush's proposal to overhaul Social Security.

The resolution will move on to a conference committee with the Senate once the Senate votes on a budget resolution. In conference, the House and Senate will have to come to an agreement on any differences between the respective versions of the budget. The compromise would then come back to the House and Senate for approval.

In the House plan, of 23 major government agencies, 12 would see their budget authority reduced next year, including cuts of 9.6 percent at Agriculture, 5.6 percent at the Environmental Protection Agency, 6.7 percent at Transportation and 11.5 percent at Housing and Urban Development.

Butterfield said that agricultural cuts would greatly affect farmers in eastern North Carolina. Overall, the administration projects cutting $8.2 billion in agriculture programs over the next decade including trimming food stamp payments to the poor by $1.1 billion.

Under the proposed budget, cotton growers would see cuts from a reduction in the ceiling on payment limitations from $360,000 down to $250,000. Also, there is a proposal to cut all direct payments to farmers by 5 percent across the board.

"Farmers are struggling as it is," Butterfield said. "Cuts like these would be devastating."

Health care costs for many veterans would also be raised through new co-payments on prescription drugs and enrollment fees. The budget also fails to repeal the Disabled Veterans Tax, which forces disabled military retirees to give up one dollar of their pension for every dollar of disability pay they receive.

"It's a shame that proposals like these would be coming forward at the same time we're welcoming home a new generation of veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan," Butterfield said.

Butterfield said that while the cost of Medicaid has been a growing burden on many communities in North Carolina, the House and President are proposing up to a $20 billion cut. The Senate today voted to reject this cut and the House and Senate will have to resolve their differences on the issues.

"The Senate understands that these cuts would decimate health care funding for children, the elderly and people with disabilities, and it makes it even harder for families to afford nursing home care," Butterfield said.

About one-third of the programs being targeted for elimination are in the Education Department, including federal grant programs for local schools in such areas as vocational education, anti-drug efforts and Even Start, a $225 million literacy program. The budget only provides half of the funding promised for after school programs, cuts vocational education by $1.2 billion and slashes $500 million from education technology state grants.

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